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Mancini’s Manchester City: The laughing stock of Europe



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Is it Groundhog Day already? Haven’t we seen this movie before? Is there a glitch in the Matrix?

How did Manchester City, the EPL’s reigning champions/supposed contenders for Europe’s biggest prize, crash out of the Champions League? At the group stages, again.

Were it not for title-holder Chelsea’s more hideous Champions League campaign (and the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo), the Citizens surely would be the talk of town (or Europe for that matter). While the Blues are on the verge of exit, Manchester City are definitely not competing for the trophy with the big ears anymore, perhaps not even the Europa League.

Whereas one feels for Roberto Di Matteo, due to the unspoken decree of getting the very best out of Fernando Torres has probably cost him his job, such sentiment is not shared for Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini. The latter has once again confirmed the suspicion that ghosts around him – he does not belong into the category of Europe’s finest managers.

He’s above an average at best with no room for further improvement. For one to improve, one must learn from their mistakes. Roberto Mancini has not shown that he is capable of learning from past failures.

For every critic there’s at least one advocate who points out the titles he has won with Inter Milan and said Manchester side. Fair enough.

What they fail to mention is that Roberto Mancini ‘won’ Inter Milan’s first titles in decades in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal. Even in retrospect it’s hard to quantify the value of these championships.

Juventus, arguably the strongest Italian at the time, were stripped of their titles and relegated to Italy’s second tier competition, Serie B. Though Zlatan Ibrahimovic switched alliances from Juventus Turin to Inter Milan in the wake of the scandal, he still maintains the position that the Old Lady won their titles on the pitch. It certainly makes it more interesting.

Any championship without a strong Juventus side is a weaker competition. Add to the fact that AC Milan prioritized the Champions League and weren’t necessarily granted the funds to compete with their city rivals; Inter Milan didn’t face any real challenges if not of their own making.

It’s quite obvious that after his club finally clinched the Champions League title in 2009/10 that Inter Milan’s supremo ceased to invest in the side. However, Roberto Mancini was one of the benefactors of a then still generous Massimo Moratti.

Roberto Mancini does okay with the aid of billionaire-backers (at Milan and Manchester), not outstanding but okay. It takes a special (or underwhelming) kind of manager to fail with almost unrestricted transfer funds. Mancini met the bare minimum requirements. No more, no less.

To heave him among the elite of managers would be a stretch. Especially if one considers his quite pathetic record of just two appearances in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. His successor at Inter Milan, Jose Mourinho, won the treble (domestic league, cup plus Champions League) in his second year in charge of the Nerazzuri, while making only slight adjustments to the team he inherited from Mancini.

As a matter of fact, Jose Mourinho has always qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Why comparing Roberto Mancini with Jose Mourinho?

Both, Manchini and Mourinho, prefer to manage clubs with considerable financial clout.

On a domestic level they have a similar track-record, but it’s Europe where Jose Mourinho truly excels and surpasses Mancini. The bare minimum one can expect from Jose Mourinho in the Champions League (the quarter-finals) is the absolute best Roberto Mancini has ever accomplished. Yes, Roberto Mancini’s record in Europe is abysmal.

The fact that Roberto Mancini still has a job is, quite honestly, puzzling to say the least. Europe’s second most expensive squad (in terms of direct squad investment post-takeover in 2009) has embarrassed themselves in Europe for the second year running.

Manchester City has spent more on new recruits than Borussia Dortmund and Ajax Amsterdam combined but firmly occupy rock bottom of Group D. Furthermore, City has not won a single Champions League game this campaign. Had it not been for dubious penalty calls against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, the Citizens would’ve only accumulated a single point.

Perhaps Sheik Mansour should take a cue from his fellow billionaire and cut his losses early. Three years of Roberto Mancini, north of €400,000,000 in squad investment, and nothing but embarrassment in Europe to show for.

At Chelsea Roman Abramovich has fired more successful managers for less. Jose Mourinho won all domestic titles and lead Chelsea to the Champions League semi-finals, Carlo Ancelotti masterminded the Blues first double and Roberto Di Matteo secured the Champions League trophy in addition to the FA Cup.

Had Roman Abramovich not sacked Roberto Di Matteo, the Italian would’ve competed for the very same titles Roberto Mancini is vying for (in addition to a very slight hope of progressing to the Champions League knock-out stages).

Roberto Di Matteo ‘only’ failed to get the very best out of Fernando Torres, a misfiring striker whose goals would’ve gone a long way in leading the Blues to glory. Chelsea currently has no world-class or in-form strikers. Meanwhile, Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini has three: Edin Dzeko, Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tevez. Any of the aforementioned strikers would’ve probably saved Di Matteo’s job.

Pampering Fernando Torres is the name of the game in London. Hence, one shouldn’t be surprised to see his compatriot Rafa Benitez take charge of the Blues. Chelea’s hopes of a successfully retaining the Champions League trophy are all but buried at this point.

Only the wildest optimist believes that Rafa Benitez was hired to navigate the Blues to the Champions League knock-out stages. Chelsea is still alive in all competitions but the Champions League. Anything Benitez can do, Di Matteo could’ve done, too.

Indeed, Roberto Mancini is the luckiest manager in football. He has several world-class strikers, accomplishes next to nothing in Europe with the assets at his disposal and still enjoys the trust of his employers.

Roberto Di Matteo was forced to stick with Fernando Torres and it cost him the job.

It’s good to be Mancini.